By Kalpana Sharma
Imagine your eight-year-old daughter carrying a five-litre pot of water on her head and making at least three trips a day in the scorching heat to the nearest water source. For those of us for whom water flows out of a tap, such a scene is unimaginable.
Drought, we are constantly told by politicians, is an annual occurrence and therefore should not cause alarm. Perhaps that explains why this year, the media, with a few honourable exceptions, has chosen to look the other way. Inevitably, you would see a photograph of an old farmer in some drought-stricken village looking woefully at the cracked baked earth that was once his field.
Natural disasters such as droughts or floods take a heavy toll on all — but more on children and the elderly. And women. The gendered division of labour has trapped poor rural women into being the chief collectors and carriers of water, a job that they certainly did not choose. And if mothers are doing this, inevitably their daughters will also be expected to do the same. But what happens to such young girls after successive droughts?
The effects are visible in the short term. These children are most likely to be under-nourished. The amount of food they get at such times would be further reduced. As a result, even the little nourishment these children get in normal times is denied to them at a time when they have to undertake tough physical labour in conditions where even sturdy adults would wilt.
Government figures on child mortality in these circumstances are rarely accurate. No government will admit that children die because they are compelled to walk miles in the sun to fetch water in temperatures exceeding 45 degrees. But over time these are the children that then get added to the list of stunted, under-nourished and malnourished children.
There is no magic wand to wish away drought conditions. But the root cause is not the heat of summer but the overconsumption of groundwater sources, the lack of a policy to conserve and replenish what is there, and to ensure equity in distribution of water.
Comments - 3
Knight Rider Monday, 11 June 2012 07:24 AM
Its sad to see such situations of hardships face by a majority while a the minority still grumble and complain while living in luxury. Thanks for posting this story
Expert Monday, 11 June 2012 08:10 AM
Media should play a more active role in highliging this. Also there is only one comment on this & only 176 people had viewed it which shows a lack on interest by all parties..
Hussain Monday, 11 June 2012 08:38 AM
Is this picture taken in Sri Lanka? How about the government sinking tube wells in every village in the dry zone, for drinking water for the people who live there? Surely the irrigation department could start up this project of sinking tube wells in each village, not only will this help with clean drinking water, but avoid waterborne deseases to the people, especially children.
Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.